Startup Truths: There is no Time or Money

I was reading Matt Mullenweg’s post about an interview that Robert Scoble recently had with Jonathon Schwarz of Sun in which it seemed Sun continued to be disconnected with reality. With respect, Schwarz responded and apologized for the perception that Sun presented. (As a sidenote, the comments on Schwarz’ entry are quite good).

Matt makes a statement that struck me as so profound that it leapt off the page at me:

At one point in the Scoble interview Jonathan Schwartz says something to the effect of their startup program targets folks with more time than money, where their enterprise customers usually value time over money. I think this might represent a fundamental misunderstanding. While I think this argument could be made for the motivation of some segment of Open Source communities, the situation in startups is even worse “” time and money are both scarce.

Anyone who has worked in a startup recognizes that Schwarz’ comment on startup is completely false. When I was working at Northrop Grumman and volunteering for b5media, I had no time and, let’s be honest – that’s really how most startups begin. Unless the folks at the helm of the startup already had capital and traction in the startup world, they need someway to pay the bills. Most folks in this situation work a “day job” ansd then slave away at the startup at night or on weekends trying to make it work.

Even once a startup is funded, this doesn’t really change. The pot of gold gets bigger and the strategies get more aggressive. Sure, you’re not working a day job and trying to make the startup work at night, but you face other challenges. Please don’t take this as complaining because I love what I do, but I still find it strangely ironic that folks sometime think us startup guys don’t really do anything but sit at home and surf the net.

My wife will tell you that I spend a large amount of time working late, spending time in front of the computer instead of going to bed with her. It’s not a cakewalk like some people might think it is.

I laugh at my dad who has no clue what I do. I tell him but he still doesn’t “get it”. He says, “People always ask me what you do and where you’re at and I just tell them, ‘I have no idea what he does but he does it well’.”

I’ve never been happier in my life. But anyone who thinks that startup guys have lots of time on their hands is fooling themselves. In some ways, there is more pressure to perform than in the big corporate environment. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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